(exclusive of Europe)
In association for
Season 2016-2017 with:
Aaron Concert Artists
220 West 148th St. 4J
New York City 10039, NY / USA
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Voices from the Island Sanctuary:
Ecclesiastical Singers in Paris (1180-1230)
New Year’s Day
In the days following Christmas, a number of feasts were celebrated at Notre Dame during which various lower groups in the cathedral hierarchy (priests, deacons, subdeacons, and even the choirboys) had their own day to assume full power in the church and control the entire operation of the liturgy. This ancient tradition, which was probably linked to pagan winter-solstice practices, was a harmless and benevolent moment of lightness in the liturgical year; but by the late 12th century the Parisian celebrations began to get out of control, with incidents of blasphemy in the church, clerics dressing as women, fighting, and indecent displays of youthful (male) energy. The Feast of the Circumcision, on New Year’s Day – which came to be known as the Festum Fatuorum (Feast of Fools) – belonged to the subdeacons, a group of underpaid, overworked young men (mostly former choirboys who were now the principal daily vocal soloists in the choir) who were particularly notorious for their naughty songs and scandalous pranks in the church (many involving the cantor’s “rod” – baculus – a symbol of authority in the choir). When a Papal legate complained about their behaviour in 1198, the Bishop of Paris finally had to issue an official reprimand, and these raucous festivities were severely curtailed, at least temporarily. In their place a number of new musical compositions were provided for the boys and young men to sing, as an attempt to channel their youthful energy into serious rehearsals and the propriety of carefully-managed celebrations, instead of the spontaneous revels which formerly marked this feast.
The year is reborn! Let us be joyful now! The old is cast out, and the new Adam is born. Let us rejoice at the year renewed! The baculus is passed around… a new sun rises … the clouds depart! Let us be joyful now!
Novus annus hodie
Today a new year urges us to begin joyful praises… therefore, let us celebrate this annual feast, loosing the chains of sin, giving drink to the thirsty, healing the sick with this medicine, as joyfully we sing as a memorial:
[refrain]: Ha! Ha! He! He who truly wishes to sing should make praise with three gifts: with his mouth, heart and good works he should labour, so that he might live and please God!
He is worthy of memory whose end is joyful, worthy of great praise whose kindness is without end, who created the heavens, the earth and the sea. Thus he ruled the world with his Word, and was concerned to enrich man, to command his subjects, and according to his will give him immortality.
[refrain]: Ha! Ha! He!...
17 March 2017
Basel (CH) Predigerkirche, Freunde Alte Musik
Monks Singing Pagans
25 March – 2 April 2017
Lafayette College, Vassar College, Princeton University, Yale University
Benjamin Bagby Beowulf tour USA
1 April 2017
New York City, Symphony Space
Book release event for ‘The Inquisitor’s Tale’
11 May 2017
Paris, Université de Paris – Sorbonne, Amphithéâtre Richelieu
Benjamin Bagby has recorded the only surviving Old High German epic fragment, the Hildebrandslied (The Song of Hildebrand), for inclusion in an audiobook version of Adam Gidwitz’s new book for children and young adults, The Inquisitor’s Tale, just released by Penguin/Random House. He also recorded harp accompaniments to go with portions of the reading of the story. A release event is being schedule for New York City in early April, 2017.
New program given birth at Cambridge University
Following working sessions in 2014-15 with University of Cambridge musicologist Sam Barrett in the USA (Harvard University and Ohio State University) and in Cambridge (Pembroke College), Sequentia was in residence at Cambridge in April for the final rehearsals of the new program 'Monks Singing Pagans'. An informal video of a rehearsal made by the university became a YouTube sensation, with over 500,000 views. In addition to their rehearsals and working sessions on the songs of Boethius, Sequentia gave a masterclass and the premiere performance of 'Monks Singing Pagans', immediately followed by the US premiere during a residency at Dartmouth College (USA). The week spent at Dartmouth included teaching activities in music history, performance practice, Latin poetry and manuscript studies. Sequentia returned to Cambridge in late June to prepare a special program of the Boethian songs, which was given as part of a symposium on medieval Latin song, with a special concert on 2 July in Pembroke College Chapel.
Teaching in Basel and Milano
Benjamin Bagby will be teaching performance courses on medieval song at two music academies this year:
Schola Cantorum Basiliensis (Basel, Switzerland): 31 October to 1 November 2016 and 13-14 March 2017
Scuola Civica di Musica Claudio Abbado (Milano, Italy): 2-3 December 2016 and 16-18 February 2017